This past season, the Los Angeles Rams were back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. What can they do to build on their surprising success?
It was a year around the NFL in which numerous teams ended long playoff droughts. The Buffalo Bills reached the postseason for the first time this century. The Jacksonville Jaguars won a division title for the first time since 1999 and played extra football for the first time since 2007. The Tennessee Titans grabbed a wild card berth and played a postseason game for the first time since 2008.
Add the Los Angeles Rams to that list. The franchise posted its first winning campaign since 2003 and reached the playoffs for the first time since ’04. Led by young head coach Sean McVay, the team went from scoring the fewest points in the league in 2016 to leading the NFL in that category this past year.
Unfortunately, the team made a quick postseason exit. So what can the club do to top its surprising 2017 showing?
5. Re-sign C John Sullivan
The Los Angeles Rams’ amazing turnaround in 2017 came in large part due to an offense that went from the worst in the league two consecutive seasons to incredibly productive this past year. The club ranked 32nd in the league in total yards per game in both 2015 and ’16 and jumped to 10th in head coach Sean McVay’s first year at the helm. There’s plenty of credit to go around with standouts such as quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley and a much-improved pass-catching corps.
But none of it works if general manager Les Snead doesn’t grab a pair of standouts in free agency. Last offseason, the Rams added left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center Mike Sullivan and the play of the offensive line improved dramatically. In 2016, Los Angeles averaged just 78.3 yards per game on the ground and allowed 49 sacks. This past season, the club ran for 122.1 yards per contest and surrendered only 28 quarterback traps
Last offseason, Sullivan signed a one-year deal to join the Rams; He could test free agency if the Rams don’t ink him to a new contract. Keeping the offensive line intact would go a long way to building off this past season’s success.